These days it is hard to hear over the cacophony of spin-wheels of il-informed commentary on a topic
we have devoted our life and work – separating moisture, and drinking water, from air. Air-to-Water
Generation (AWG) technology is real and we are doing it. We are about to enter Indian markets – both
consumer and institutional – in a really big way in partnership with a Kolkata based business
powerhouse, claim Partha Chakraborty and Art Neumann.
Our paths to AWG world were different. Art spent much of his globe-trotting career in the emerging
manufacturing companies of China and the Far East, where he managed the development of many
products for global sales. Art has a unique background in a broad base of manufacturing disciplines and
corporate intelligence. That background made him a consultant on what would be the very water
technologies that are patented and represent the leading edge of Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG)
technologies that became the basis of Infinite Water, Inc, a US pioneer in AWG.
Partha survived many Kolkata floods, especially a devastating one as a pre-teen child. The only source of
drinking water for the family was tube-well shared by many households around; the tube-well itself was
almost fully submerged in flood water mixed with everything that was above, and below, ground. Partha
remembers, even as a child, being cagey about drinking that water coming from the hand-cranked
machine whose mouth was barely inches over sludge floating all around. Life’s lessons convinced both
of us that many of the world’s wicked problems can trace origin to (lack of) access to drinking water and
we are convinced AWG is the right approach.
Drinking Water is a scarce commodity, almost. Only 2.5% of water in earth is fresh even if 70% of the
earth’s surface is covered by water. Only 1% of the fresh water supply is accessible; thereby 0.007% of
the water on earth, outside of the atmosphere, is available for all of over 7 billon people on earth. There
is huge disparity in access to water, by geography and by socioeconomic status, among others. United
Nations estimates that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in water scarcity, and almost two thirds of
human population will be living in water stressed regions.
We need to look up when we talk about solving water access for the masses, literally.
1 Art Neuman and Partha Chakraborty are founders of Infinite Water, Inc. (IW), an Air to Water Generation
technology company based in the US. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect that of IW.
Authors are solely responsible for all errors and omissions.
It is estimated the atmosphere contains 37.5 million billion gallons of pure drinkable water, and that is
replenished naturally every single minute. Atmospheric currents drive billions of gallons of water from
ocean’s surfaces to land-locked regions every single day, even if ocean’s water is not drinkable. Much of
that comes down as rain, about one billon tons of it every single day on average, a tiny portion of which
is available to us as drinking water whereas much finds its way back into the oceans – thereby
completing the cycle. If all of the atmospheric water is to fall as rain it would have covered the entire
earth’s surface in a 1-inch deep puddle.
Since every drop of atmospheric water is drinkable, it gives an idea of how much we can do to help solve
The challenge is technical of course. We have been separating moisture from air for decades, in principle
every single dehumidifier does that. Typically, the process they use is refrigerant based, that is
expensive and not very ecologically friendly. It does not necessarily have to be so, but your dehumidifier
unit is not there to solve your water problems. IWI offers a wide range of thermos-dynamic solutions
that are reflected in their patents and proprietary technologies. AWG technologies vary, but most are
still plagued by lack of economy, issues with scalability, and possible contamination, among others.
Good news is that very capable brains are at work on these.
Our benchmark residential units, pictured here, look and feel like a household
water cooler. In pached Southern California weather as is right now, it produces
a little under 5 gallons of pure drinkable water per day, enough for a family of
four per CDC guidelines. In much of India yield is expected to be higher. Our
technology is scalable and we have versions in prototype that multiplies the
yield, potentially very useful for restaurants, office complexes, hotels and
convention centers, cruise industry, military establishments, off-grid living and
so on. It may be difficult to bulk it up to serve as a single source of drinking water
for an entire city, thousands of smaller units in every home can easily
complement available municipal water supply of a metropolis. Our Indian
partner is very involved with Public-Private initiatives in municipal water supply
– already supplying over 100 million gallons of water per day combined in
multiple establishments dotting the map.
None of us forecasts AWG technology replace municipal water supplies for a big city like New Delhi,
Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai, or any city in India for that matter. What we do predict, and aim for, is
giving families peace. Peace that a mom can serve her child water that she knows is pure and readily
available, no matter what happens to the outside world. Peace that a municipal authority can have in
knowing their constituents are not left dry if when a major repair work is under way. Peace for the
elected representatives in the Center and the States that there are answers to water shortage that do
not have multi-hundred-million-dollar price tags. That our perennial divisions on myriad issues do not
hurt something as basic as a glass of water for the thirsty.
In effect, Air-to-Water Generation technologies, especially ours, can democratize access to water
making them ideal for the biggest democracy of the world. Technology is already there, we are doing it,
and we are coming to India shortly.
Views expressed here are those of Partha Chakraborty and Art Neumann – founders of Infinite Water Inc.